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Friday, May 25, 2007

On Inevitability - Revisited

In a previous post, I tried to tackle the issue of the inevitability of certain outcomes, once something monumental takes place. Saddam's eventual (violent) demise was one example I had in mind, and I tried to extrapolate to Iran. My point was that if Iran continues to play this game of cat and mouse with the international community, namely the Americans, eventually it will pay the price - in the form of military intervention ( whether American or Israeli... ).

In any case, in this post the "inevitability" that I have in mind is slightly different in nature. I have been pre-occupied with the inevitability of the Syrian regime being a detrimental force in the region for as long as it exists (hence the inevitability of its own demise- but that is not my point for the moment).

Michael Totten , in the comments section of a recent post on his blog insightfully states that "... the Syrian regime wouldn't survive without being in a state of cold war or proxy war with Israel. It can't survive peace, and it can't survive hot war."

In fact, the Syrian regime of the Assads has a history (and a method of survival) of living in the grey area between peace and war with Israel.

In the era prior to the Hariri assassination, the Syrians could not afford to sign peace with Israel, lest they lose their pretext for occupying Lebanon. After all, what are the Golan Heights, economically and politically, compared to their smaller neighbor.

In the era following the Hariri assassination, the Syrians inevitably lost Lebanon, but does that mean that they can negotiate a peace with Israel? I really wonder. It seems that the number one priority for the Syrians right now is regime survival at any cost - to Syria's neighbors of course. From acting as a transit route and haven for terrorists heading to Iraq, to inflaming the situation in the Palestinian territories via its manipulation (in conjunction with every one's favorite Mullocracy) of Palestinian factions, to inciting its allies in Lebanon to unreasonable escalation, to exporting Jihadi terrorists to Lebanon as well (as highlighted by the tragic events in Lebanon this week)... the Syrian regime has to ensure its survival by making itself "relevant".

By doing so, however, the Syrians may have become too relevant. It is becoming more and more understood that one of the main common factors of the three unstable neighbours of Syria, is ... well ... Syria. The regime wants to negotiate, and as the Americans refuse to negotiate, the regime raises the stakes higher and higher.

Eventually, one of two things will happen - one more likely than the other of course.

Either the Americans and the Europeans will concede, handing Lebanon back to the Syrians, and naturally emptying the international tribunal on the Hariri killing of any substance, paving the way to the Syrian signing of peace with Israel. In return, the Syrians will tighten border security, expel Hamas and co from Damascus, cut off logistic and political support for Hizbulla, and so on...

I see such an outcome as unlikely, others may disagree (more on this in a later post).

The other possible eventuality is that as the Syrians dig deeper into this ever spiralling game of sowing uncertainty and instability in their surroundings, they risk severe blow back. After all, three neighboring countries in a (current/possible future) state of civil war, will inevitably have consequences on the Syrian interior. More importantly (on the short term), the more the Syrians make themselves "relevant", the more their "peskiness" becomes a threat. And as that happens there will be an ever growing bulls-eye on the regime's back.

In the meantime, they have no choice. Syrian Peace with Israel without the regime regaining Lebanon or at least resolving the tribunal issue is impossible. By the same token, war with Israel is regime suicide... but so is an indictment of regime officials in a tribunal on the assassination of a former prime minister of a neighboring country.

Consequently, destabilizing Lebanon is a priority for Syria; the tribunal -to them-must become irrelevant, or at least negotiable. Viewed from that lens, the recent madness they unleashed from the refugee camps in (for now) the north of Lebanon and the sporadic explosions rocking Lebanon's cities become less surprising though no less appalling, or despicable...

An eventuality to ponder on here is whether or not the (alleged (for now)) Syrian assassination of Hariri will prove to be the fatal mistake that will eventually be the Assads' undoing - just as the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait was Saddam's eventual undoing - despite all the macabre maneuverings of the Syrian regime at the expense of the blood of the innocent in at least three of its neighboring countries...


Jeha said...

Nasrallah's speech adds to this Inevitability; he appears still stuck in the civil war's dynamic.

R said...

You think so ? I thought his speech had two main components. 1 - being the usual towing of the Syrian line / conspiracy theory. 2 - It seemed like he didnt want to entangle himself and HA (as a selfproclaimed representative of the Shia) in a potential future Sunni-Shia war a-la-Iraq.

Jeha said...

Well, the general tone had a "wait and see" approach... Not the ringing endorsement you would expect from a Lebanese perspective, but a cautious sectarian leader hedging his bets.

Nour said...


i have a request :-) i am a Lebanese student conducting an academic research for my MA in Media & Communications. It's mainly about the use of the internet, social change and cultural/national identity. I have an anonymous online survey i would be more than glad if you could partake in. here's the link, just copy paste it into a new window:

I would really really appreciate your contribution/help.

Have a nice day!
Nour (here's my email, shall you need any further info:

P.S. Can you please email the link to your Lebanese friends and bloggers?

Thanx a million!